Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 9:33 pm

Rockets in final stages; McHale in W's mix?

The Houston Rockets are in the final stages of deciding on a head coach, with all three candidates having received two interviews for the job of replacing Rick Adelman.

“The next step is to make a decision,” a person with knowledge of the process told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Former Timberwolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale met with owner Leslie Alexander Wednesday in Miami, where McHale was broadcasting the Eastern Conference finals for TNT. Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also have been interviewed twice.

UPDATE: A second person familiar with the process told CBSSports.com Thursday night that the Rockets are expected to extend a formal offer to their top choice as early as Friday.

Sources have been told that Frank has been losing ground in the three-man race, but that no clear favorite has emerged. The Rockets have not extended an offer or engaged in contract negotiations with any of the candidates, sources said.

While McHale’s candidacy has been bolstered by a strong recommendation from former Celtics teammate and current Boston president Danny Ainge, sources said Casey is on firm ground by virtue of the fact that he is the only candidate still coaching in the playoffs. Another person with direct knowledge of the interview process said all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team, but not all aspects of the candidates’ strategies are on the same page with Houston management.

Meanwhile, Warriors management – bolstered by the addition of Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West – remains focused on a list of five remaining candidates the team has spoken with about its head coaching vacancy: Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person; Hornets assistant Michael Malone; ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson; and Frank. The team also had spoken with former Cavs coach Mike Brown, who was hired Wednesday to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

A person familiar with the Golden State search said “one or two” other candidates could emerge for the Golden State job as a result of “musical chairs” with other jobs. One example of that could be Shaw, who may not want to remain with the Lakers after being passed over for the head coaching vacancy he had long hoped to fill once Jackson finally retired.

Another could be McHale, whose candidacy is expected to be strengthened by owner Joe Lacob’s connection to the Celtics. As a former member of the Celtics’ ownership group, Lacob is open to advice from Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who are solidly backing McHale for a head coaching position. Sources in the coaching industry expect McHale to emerge as a candidate in Golden State depending on how his bid for the Houston job turns out.

UPDATE: A person with knowledge of the Warriors' search said Thursday that McHale had an "informal discussion" with team officials about the job.

UPDATE: In other NBA front office news, the Raptors are assembling a list of candidates to work alongside assistant general manager Marc Eversley under team president Bryan Colangelo. Although Maurizio Gherardini's contract expires June 30 and he may pursue other opportunities, Colangelo is chiefly concerned with filling the hole in the front office left by Masai Ujiri's departure for Denver. A person with knowledge of the Raptors' search said Colangelo is seeking a "high-level basketball person" to fill that role in what is expected to be an ambitious reorganization of the Toronto front office after the draft.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:36 pm

Brown finds Warriors job 'intriguing'

CHICAGO – Mike Brown finds the Warriors head coaching job “intriguing,” according to a person who said Wednesday the former Cavaliers coach has had conversations with Golden State officials about the opening.

Brown, who was fired after last season despite averaging 54 wins over five seasons in Cleveland, has yet to formally interview with Warriors owner Joe Lacob, sources said. Also in the mix to replace Keith Smart as Warriors coach are Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person, Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, and Hornets assistant Michael Malone, according to sources. The search is expected to gain momentum in the coming days.

Frank also is one of three finalists for the Rockets’ head coaching position, along with Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and former Timberwolves coach and GM Kevin McHale. All three are having second interviews this week, sources said, the Rockets officials are in the evaluation process. Two high-level coaching sources said Casey appears to be the favorite for the Houston job.

While Brown would bring playoff experience and a defensive foundation to a Warriors team that needs both, Malone – Brown’s former assistant in Cleveland – is a creative and especially intriguing candidate. Like reigning coach of the year Tom Thibodeau, Malone, 39, was mentored by former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and is known as a defensive guru. He transitioned to coaching the offense in Cleveland after John Kuester left the Cavs for the head job in Detroit.

Malone, the son of Magic assistant and longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, has coached in the playoffs seven times, including two appearances in the conference finals and one in the NBA Finals. He was hired last year as Monty Williams’ lead assistant in New Orleans.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 6:43 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

CHICAGO -- NBA officials are evaluating whether to fine Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn for comments suggesting Tuesday night's draft lottery was rigged, sources told CBSSports.com.

A decision on what to do with Kahn over his latest insensitive and inapropriate public remarks could be delayed because top league executives are traveling and scattered for multiple events, including the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting Wednesday in Chicago. Commissioner David Stern and general counsel Richard Buchanan have yet to confer with other top officials, and there is expected to be a difference of opinion on whether fining Kahn and the Timberwolves would simply draw more attention to the unfortunate comments.

Meanwhile, Kahn told CBSSports.com Wednesday that his comments were meant as a joke, but reiterated that he believes in "the power of story."

The Timberwolves drew the No. 2 pick Tuesday night, losing out to the Cavaliers -- who were represented by owner Dan Gilbert's 14-year-old son, Nick, who suffers from a disease that causes tumors to grow throughout his body. Instead of being gracious, Kahn unleashed the following apparent attempt at humor and cleverness, which instead resonated with arrogance, poor taste, and what one league official called "bad karma."

"This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines," Kahn said. "Last year it was Abe Pollin's widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin (O'Connor, GM of the Jazz, who got the No. 3 pick): 'We're toast.' This is not happening for us and I was right."

If you like to hear and see stupid things first-hand, rather than just read the quotes, you can watch Kahn's buffoonery here.

Speaking Wednesday to CBSSports.com at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, where league executives convened for the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting, Kahn said his comments were made in jest and that he didn’t intend to imply that the lottery was rigged. But then he may have unintentionally dug a deeper hole when he reiterated the essence of his comment, saying he believes in “the power of story.”

“The first questions I was asked last night by the reporters were, did I feel that the Timberwolves were jinxed,” Kahn said. “You know, we have a poor lottery record. And I want to say for the record, I don’t believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus, and I don’t believe we’ve been harmed in any way. What I said last night, I do believe in the power of story. And I just felt it was a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old to beat out two middle-aged executives standing together on a stage on national TV, and that our league has had its own share of luck in being a part of those stories. That’s it. Anybody ascribing anything else to it is completely doing their own thing.”

Kahn pointed out that his comment Tuesday night “elicited laughter,” and said, “There was no follow-up question. Nobody said, ‘Do you understand what you just said?’ No, because everybody knew context. But I do understand, to your point, just reading it dry, that somebody could infer that. So lesson learned.”

Asked again Wednesday if he was simply reiterating his assertion that the lottery results were rigged to produce a better story, Kahn said, “Absolutely not. I’m just saying that, if you look at sports in general, typically fairy tale stories, Cinderella stories, whatever you want to say, those tend to dominate sports. I just knew when you’re standing there with a 14-year-old kid, logically the 14-year-old kid … it had nothing to do with being nefarious.”

Kahn said he hadn’t heard from the league about the comments, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if he received a fine.

“I’ve had money taken away from me before,” Kahn said. “It probably won’t be the last time. It is what it is.”

Whether Kahn’s comments warrant a fine or not, his latest in a pattern of missteps had rival executives shaking their heads in exasperation and privately mocking him Wednesday. In one fell swoop, Kahn offended the family of late owner Abe Pollin, reduced an heroic 14-year-old suffering from a horrific disease to a “storyline,” and insinuated that the primary means for bad NBA teams to improve – a process independently audited by an accounting firm – was fixed. And worse, upon reflection, Kahn didn’t seem to realize or care that he had done any of this.

“He oozes smug,” one rival team employee said.

Kahn and his organization were most recently fined $50,000 each last July for Kahn’s comments about Michael Beasley’s marijuana use – comments that were made soon after Kahn acquired Beasley in a trade with the Heat. This is not the kind of mistake that a seasoned, capable executive should make – especially one who is so close to Stern, who is mostly responsible for Kahn’s continued gainful employment in the NBA. Kahn’s basketball career began as an attorney at Proskauer Rose, the Manhattan law firm which handled, and continues to handle, NBA litigation.

Even now, with his organization hoping to secure a commitment from 2009 first-round pick Ricky Rubio to leave Spain and join the Timberwolves next season, Kahn’s latest actions have threatened what should be a positive, forward-looking time for a team that has endured years of hopeless ineptitude – some of it, Kahn’s own doing.

Overpaying for Darko Milicic and Nicola Pekovic while still having the lowest payroll in the NBA (when adjusted for Eddy Curry’s buyout) tells you all you need to know about Kahn’s basketball acumen. It’s truly amateur hour when the same GM who drafted two point guards on consecutive selections in 2009 now complains about being denied the No. 1 pick in the lottery – when the consensus top pick is, you guessed it, a point guard.

Had Minnesota gotten the No. 1 pick, Kahn would’ve had a controversy much bigger than this one on his hands – being forced to explain why he did or didn’t select Kyrie Irving first overall with Rubio, fellow 2009 lottery pick Jonny Flynn, and Luke Ridnour already Wolves property.

“But that’s presuming there would’ve been a controversy,” Kahn said. “I’m not in a position to presume that and I wouldn’t presume that if I were you. It hasn’t been discussed, internally or externally.”

In addition, the organization has needlessly dragged out the presumed firing of coach Kurt Rambis, whose representatives are meeting with Kahn in Chicago this week but still may not come away with a final answer on his future. Don’t cry for Rambis, who will see the more than $4 million remaining on his contract either way, but that’s not the point. The point is, Rambis deserves better. So do Wolves fans, and the rest of the NBA.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:31 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 2:04 pm

Warriors not bringing back Smart

Warriors coach Keith Smart, who has been under evaluation since Golden State's season ended, will not be back next season, the team announced Wednesday.

Comcast SportsNet-Bay Area first reported the decision on Smart, who took over for Don Nelson last season and went 36-46. The Warriors' new front office, led by former agent Bob Myers, decided not to pick up Smart's team option for the 2011-12 season.

Golden State joins Houston on the coaching-search trail, with the Pistons (John Kuester) soon to follow once the ownership transfer to Tom Gores is completed. The Timberwolves' basketball staff is meeting later this week to discuss, among other things, the future of coach Kurt Rambis. Sources say Minnesota brass are in no rush to make a decision on Rambis, who is in danger and will be required to make some significant changes to his style and philosophy if asked to stay.

In Toronto, coach Jay Triano's future is tied to general manager Bryan Colangelo, who appears to be on his way out unless the majority owners from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan are successful in selling their stake in the team, sources say. There are strong indications that Pacers coach Frank Vogel will be retained after taking over for Jim O'Brien and losing to the top-seeded Bulls 4-1 in the first round. It also is believed that team president Larry Bird, who has been contemplating retirement, will be back next season, sources with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

As CBSSports.com reported Monday, the Knicks are poised to retain team president Donnie Walsh with a two-year extension, pending Walsh becoming comfortable that he will have undisputed final say over basketball operations. It is Walsh's desire to retain coach Mike D'Antoni, who has one year left on his contract, sources say.

Speculation has surrounded Smart's future for weeks as new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber seemed poised to put their own stamp on the franchise. The process began two weeks ago when Golden State hired Myers, an influential agent with Wasserman Media Group, as assistant GM, signaling that he will be groomed for the top job while GM Larry Riley remains with a contract extension. The decision not to retain Smart ultimately was ownership's call, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:59 pm

Taylor: Kahn safe, more time for Rambis

NEW YORK -- Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told CBSSports.com Friday that he needs more time to evaluate coach Kurt Rambis, but that general manager David Kahn is safe.

"What I’ve kind of asked David and the staff to do is, let’s just take a little bit of time now, back off, and ask everybody to put in some evaluations," Taylor said after the NBA Board of Governors meetings. "Also, look at what are our options going ahead. What could we change? Then, come together and talk about what’s the best solution here. My sense is, it’s just too close to a season in which we didn’t meet the goals that we had set out, so it’s a little frustratiing right now. I’d just as soon not make a final decision when you’re in a little bit of a down mood."

Asked if Kahn were undergoing the same type of evaluation, Taylor said he's made the decision to keep his general manager in place despite 32 wins combined over his first two seasons.

"No, I think I‘ve kind of met with the staff and said, 'Let’s go ahead,'" Taylor said. "Because I’m asking those guys to put together the information for me (on Rambis)."

There are strong indications that Rambis will be fired with two years left on his contract. Despite Rambis' accomplishments developing Kevin Love and Michael Beasley -- the latter being a reclamation project that was believed impossible -- the Wolves are seeking a more energetic sideline figure and better communicator. Though Kahn's relationship with Rambis has improved in recent months, the GM held an end-of-season news conference Wednesday in which he did not endorse Rambis returning next season.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:18 am

Myers to Warriors; Kuester, Rambis on way out

Joe Lacob has impressed everyone who's dealt with him so far as an outside-the-box thinker. On Wednesday, the Warriors' owner reached outside the typical circle of candidates and found a sharp, creative basketball man who eventually will run his organization. 

High-profile agent Bob Myers will become the latest to make the transition from the representation business to the front office as the Warriors' new assistant general manager, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. 

GM Larry Riley will remain in the top spot, but it is clear to those familiar with Lacob's strategy that he envisions Myers eventually taking over the leading role. It is possible that Riley could remain in some capacity when the transition is complete, one of the sources said. 

The move was first reported by San Jose Mercury News. 

Myers, who worked under Arn Tellem at Wasserman Media Group, will renounce his representation ties to all NBA clients. His impressive roster includes such players as Brandon Roy, Tyreke Evans, Kendrick Perkins, Brook Lopez, and DeAndre Jordan. Myers follows in the footsteps of agents-turned executives Jason Levien (formerly with the Kings) and Lon Babby (hired as the Suns' president last summer.) 

The first order of business for the Riley-Myers team will be to decide whether coach Keith Smart will be back for another season. A person familiar with Lacob's strategy said he wants sweeping changes in the long term, but may not be ready to part ways with his coach immediately. Lacob, according to one source, hasn't formed a strong opinion of Smart one way or the other. It could be "a couple of weeks" before the team makes a decision on Smart, according to the source, noting that Lacob wants Myers to "get his feet wet" before making any major decisions. 

The end of the regular season Wednesday night is expected to bring the usual flurry of personnel moves, with Pistons coach John Kuester and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis the most likely to be fired, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. Kuester's firing is widely believed to be a foregone conclusion, though a source said there is "no timetable for anything" the organization is doing due to the pending ownership change. Rambis' tenuous situation did not get any help from GM David Kahn on Wednesday. 

In holding his season-ending news conference before the season was over, Kahn stopped short of providing a vote of confidence for Rambis and said the coach's fate would be decided after the GM meets with owner Glen Taylor in the coming weeks. There seems to be little reason to wait, as two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Wednesday that preparations are under way for Rambis to be let go with two years left on his contract. 

Rockets coach Rick Adelman, whose second consecutive season out of the playoffs ended Wednesday night, faces an uncertain future in Houston -- where everyone's contract is up. One person familiar with the situation described Adelman's status Wednesday as "to be determined." 

In Toronto, GM Bryan Colangelo is caught in a dysfunctional situation in which powerful board member Glen Silvestri wants him out. Colangelo had sold ownership on a rebuilding plan in the wake of Chris Bosh leaving for Miami, and "that direction was agreed on," a person familiar with the situation said. But some members of ownership, chiefly Silvestri, are now suffering from what one source described as "convenient amnesia." 

Colangelo's contract expires June 30, and coach Jay Triano also does not have a contract for next season. With the team expected to go up for sale in the next six months, and with a work stoppage looming, it isn't clear how quickly the majority owners will take action. 

Meanwhile, as the Pacers prepare for their first-round playoff series against the top-seeded Bulls, team president Larry Bird remains "conflicted" about his future, a source said. While Bird wants to complete the rebuilding project he undertook with general manager David Morway, there are strong indications that his desire to spend time with his family and get out of the limelight -- where the Hall of Famer has always been a reluctant participant -- is weighing heavily on him. Bird's future directly affects Morway, who is expected to get a shot at the top job if Bird departs. Similarly, interim coach Frank Vogel's future is uncertain, though Vogel has earned the right to receive the first interview if the team embarks on a full-fledged coaching search.
Posted on: February 22, 2011 2:15 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 2:46 pm

Amar'e welcomes Carmelo to New York

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The guy who started it all, who put the cachet and challenges of playing in New York on his shoulders, embraced the idea of getting some help Tuesday. Amar’e Stoudemire has a co-star – and not a minute too soon, as far as he’s concerned. 

“I think that’s where it all started, when I signed here in New York,” Stoudemire said, recalling his decision to be the first star to come to the Knicks at a time when the NBA landscape is changing forever. “That pretty much opened the eyes of the rest of the basketball world that, ‘New York is a place that I’d go now.’” 

Stoudemire spoke by phone Tuesday morning with his new teammate, Carmelo Anthony, who was en route to the Knicks’ training facility after the blockbuster trade sending him from Denver to the Knicks was agreed to Monday night. The customary conference call with league officials to approve the trade was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re both really excited,” Stoudemire said. “Chauncey (Billups) is a great shooter off the screen-roll and Carmelo can space the floor from the 3-point line out. The court’s going to be open and it’s going to be hard to guard us.” 

Stoudemire said he found out that the trade had been agreed to Monday night from Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, who took the lead on closing the massive, three-team, 12-player trade with Denver and Minnesota.

"Mr. Dolan called me and told me," Stoudemire said. "We commented back and forth. The one thing I talked about when I first signed was keeping the communication open because the goal was to win a championship team."

Stoudemire and Anthony first met in high school, playing in McDonald’s All-American games and the Jordan Classic. Now, they’ll have to figure out how to co-exist on the same team – in a city that is overwhelmed with expectations that the addition of Anthony puts the Knicks in the hunt with Miami, Boston, Chicago, Orlando and Atlanta. The pressure will be stifling and the expectations unrealistic, but Stoudemire said it is precisely what Anthony was looking for since he began angling for a trade five months ago. 

“That’s what he wants,” Stoudemire said. “That’s what I wanted, coming to New York and playing on the big stage. We have that same swag. We’re going to do it together.” 

Stoudemire likened the addition of Anthony to Phoenix giving him Steve Nash in Phoenix, when current Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was the coach there.

"We went to the Western Conference finals and won 60-odd games," Stoudemire said. "We built a championship caliber team. That's something that's been overlooked, what I did for that franchise."

Now, Stoudemire brings in Anthony, whose union was first discussed publicly at Anthony's wedding in July -- when Chris Paul raised a glass to forming "our own Big Three in New York." Two down, one to go -- though Stoudemire smiled when asked if he'd spoken with a certain New Orleans point guard since the trade went down.

"No, I haven't talked to him at all," Stoudemire said.

It took Stoudemire’s pals in Miami, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, a solid two months before they got used to playing with each other. With Amar’e and Melo, there will be bumps in the road. But Stoudemire said “there’s no doubt” they’re compatible. 

“Every team needs a 1 and a 1-A punch,” Stoudemire said. 

If nothing else, the Knicks have that. And Stoudemire believes the guys in Miami and Boston will take notice. 

“I think they know it’s starting to get harder and harder in the East,” Stoudemire said.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 9:35 am

Knicks, Nuggets agree to Melo trade

Seven months after the famous toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding, the second member of the Knicks' proposed Big Three is on his way to New York.

Just like he wanted all along.

And now that Anthony is finally a Knick, teaming with Amar'e Stoudemire to form one of the most lethal scoring duos in the NBA, the question of how it's going to work is as important as who's coming next.

The Knicks and Nuggets agreed Monday night on a massive, three-team, 13-player trade sending Anthony to New York, three league sources told CBSSports.com.

The deal, approved by league officials Tuesday night, is Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and New York's 2014 first-round pick going to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter. The Timberwolves agreed to take Eddy Curry's expiring contract along with Anthony Randolph from the Knicks and send Corey Brewer to New York -- not Denver, as was discussed in a previous version of the trade. The Wolves get $3 million from the Knicks, which will be used to buy Curry out of the few remaining pay checks on his $11.3 million contract.

The Nuggets also get Golden State's second-round picks in 2012 and '13 from New York -- an incredible haul for Denver general manager Masai Ujiri considering the superstar he was forced to trade in his first few months on the job only had one destination in mind. Denver also gets Greek center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota for a second-round pick, a wrinkle added during the trade call with league officials Tuesday. Mozgov and the second-round picks being added after the Knicks made what was described as their final offer Sunday further called into question whether Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan overruled his basketball staff to close the deal.

As they said on one of the news shows Monday night in New York, "If your name is not Amar'e Stoudemire ... you've been traded!"

"They gave up their team," one rival executive said of the assets New York surrendered for Anthony, the league's sixth-leading scorer and a four-time All-Star.

Despite the assets surrendered for Anthony, the deal was another bold step for Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who needed only two years to clean up a decade-old mess at the Garden and put two of the top 10-15 players in the NBA in Knicks jerseys in a span of seven months. Though the Knicks team that emerges from this trade will have flaws, it is the most relevant -- and most dangerous -- team that has inhabited the Garden in more than a decade. The key player the Knicks would have refused to give up in the deal was Landry Fields, a second-round pick who has emerged as one of the top rookies in the league.

Pending the passing of physicals, Anthony and Billups will make their Knicks debuts Wednesday night against Milwaukee at the Garden.

The question becomes whether Walsh will have enough flexibility to make the third member of the Anthony wedding trinity, Chris Paul, appear between 31st and 33rd Streets when he is a free agent in 2012. Deron Williams also will be a free agent that summer, and CBSSports.com reported last week that Williams began contemplating a union with Stoudemire last summer. It isn't clear whether Stoudemire and Anthony making a combined $40 million in 2012-13 will allow space for a third max player under a new collective bargaining agreement. But once the Lakers, Celtics and Heat set the precedent for superstars teaming up, it can't be good for them and not good for others.

The Nets, whose pursuit of Anthony ended Monday night in a crushing disappointment for Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, could expand the deal by taking two ex-Knicks from Denver but are not fully committed to the idea, according to a person briefed on the negotiations. The Nets' involvement depends on which two of the four ex-Knicks the Nuggets want to trade. Nuggets officials have been pushing for some degree of assurance that they can flip two of the Knicks players they are getting for draft picks, which they value more.

It was presumed earlier Monday that Denver would flip Gallinari and Mozgov to New Jersey for two first-round picks, providing the final incentive for Denver to part with its franchise player. But sources indicated Monday night that the Nets may actually want Felton in that scenario, and that New Jersey prefers Felton over acquiring Andre Miller from Portland in one of several separate potential trades they are discussing.

Either way, Anthony finally will get his wish Tuesday -- a three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks, the team he has pushed to be dealt to since September. CBSSports.com reported in December and again in January that Anthony, if traded, wouldn't sign an extension anywhere but with the Knicks. His persistence was tested in recent days, when Anthony agreed to meet with Prokhorov, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and other Nets management figures during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles as a condition of getting permission to meet with the Knicks' Dolan. Anthony was careful not to give any commitment to Prokhorov, but he also didn't turn the Nets down. To ensure that the Nuggets could get a competitive offer from New York, Anthony needed to leverage the possibility of signing the extension with the Nets. So in a way, Anthony and Ujiri were working in tandem all along to get Anthony to his preferred destination in a way that satisfied both their agendas.

Anthony, 26, will join fellow All-Star Stoudemire, 28, to form one of the most potent offensive duos in the NBA -- and the highest-profile superstars in their prime that the team has had in the lives of most Knicks fans. But with the Knicks giving up three starters and Mozgov, a 24-year-old 7-footer, New York will have a thin bench and still won't have a defensive big man to take pressure off Stoudemire. In addition, Stoudemire and Anthony will be scheduled to make $40 million combined in 2012-13 -- perhaps hampering the Knicks' efforts to land a member of that summer's star-studded free-agent class including Paul, Williams, and Dwight Howard.

Meanwhile, Denver's new basketball brain trust of Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke passed an enormous test of their will, patience and negotiating chops with flying colors. Going all the way back to September, when they refused to pull the trigger on a four-team Melo trade involving Charlotte and Utah, Ujiri and Kroenke expertly played the Knicks and Nets against each other to the tune of a potentially massive package of assets for Anthony. The strategy resulted in an out-of-control groundswell of public support in New York for the Knicks to acquire Anthony, a player some significant members of the organization were determined not to give up major assets to acquire. And in an unimaginable twist given the obstacle that Anthony only wanted to re-sign with the Knicks, the Nuggets could wind up walking away with significant assets from both of the teams that pursued their star player.

It is common for general managers to print money in trades through contract-swapping. The Nuggets could essentially wind up printing draft picks by flipping two of the Knicks' players they didn't want for assets they value more. Even if the Nuggets wind up trading none of the ex-Knicks to New Jersey, it was an extremely impressive debut in the hot seat for Ujiri, a Nigerian-born former international scout who was part of the Toronto front office that got burned by free agent Chris Bosh last summer.

The Knicks get older, but arguably better at the point guard position with Billups, 34, taking over for Felton, 26 -- though Billups is not a classic pick-and-roll point guard and will have trouble playing the heavy minutes Felton endured. Williams, a disciplined, 6-9 reserve, will help bolster New York's undersized front court, and the addition of Brewer to the deal gives the Knicks a much needed wing defender.

In the end, this one's all about Melo -- a sidekick for Stoudemire who will cause problems for Boston, Miami and Chicago while serving as further magnetism for future free agents.  

They're still one shy of a Big Three.

For up to date news on the NBA trade deadline, follow Ken Berger on Twitter at @KBerg_CBS
For more on the Nuggets' trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks: 
Ben Golliver breaks down the winners and losers from the trade
Did this trade make the Knicks contenders? Royce Young has his doubts
Carmelo Anthony: No one man should have all that power , thinks Matt Moore. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com